What does it mean to experience the love of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Last night, my wife and I were with our church small group and we started talking about the lesson on experiencing the love of God. Now keep in mind in all that I say that I am not questioning God’s love for us. I am also not doubting that some people have very deep and profound experiences, but on the other hand, I think there are many of us out there that aren’t really experience and feelings oriented and that doesn’t strike us the same way.
And that’s okay.
When my wife and I go to church, many times I could be fine with skipping or greatly reducing the music time. The music often seems to me like a concert meant to get us to an emotional high. I also think a lot of times, we’re just saying the words and such because there are so many lyrics I hear where people sing about how valuable God is to them. Color me skeptical when I hear people talking about how excited they are about the love of God and don’t often seem to live like they know what it means.
Sometimes, it can also be a self-centered thing too. We can think about how much God loves us to make us feel better about ourselves, which to an extent is fine, but then we don’t go and do anything in response. When we do that, we’re essentially a taker in a relationship. We are in it for what we can get out of it, but not what we can give.
Many people do have profound feelings and experiences about the love of God. I would count my wife as one of them. These feelings are not constant and these experiences are not every day, nor can they be. Your goal in your walk with God is not to maintain a feeling and keep it going perpetually. It is to do the right thing for God every day and serve Him the way you ought to.
Consider it also like a marriage. Your goal is not to maintain feelings of being in love with your spouse. Those are nice when they come and you should enjoy them, but if they are not there, you are still to do the right thing. The question we have to ask ourselves in our walk with God and if married, with our spouses, is if we are treating the other one the way they deserve consistently.
I said that for me, I could cut a lot of the music. Instead, I want to get to the sermon. This isn’t to say the sermon isn’t important to others, but for me, it is the main event. Yet when I get to that sermon, I have high standards. I want it to give me more than just the basics.
The best church we had at this was The Point back in Knoxville. It was a Lutheran church and the pastors were always diligent researchers into the Scripture. I would see a serious exegesis and deep insight followed by a chance to ask questions. It was also enough that my wife, who does not get into the intellectual stuff like I do, did not think things were going over her head.
Most sermons I hear from preachers today are fluffy. They most often seem to jump immediately to application. There’s nothing about what the text meant to the hearers of the time or the historical background. Instead, it’s all about helping you be a better person. There’s nothing wrong with being a better person of course, but the Bible is more than self-help. It’s about the Kingdom of God.
You see, I am willing to admit many people are feeling-oriented, and that is okay, but sometimes I think when we talk about the love of God, we can make it awkward for others in a way that could hinder them. Those of us who are more intellectually stimulated as it were can be given the impression that we are lesser Christians. Some who are not Christians could think that if they don’t feel something, then they shouldn’t come into the Kingdom.
By the way, while we’re at it, let’s talk about this love we’re supposed to know. What is it? If love means warm fuzzies of some kind, then it’s not really an outward act. Love becomes about the way you feel about someone else and if you feel something, that is love. Love can have feelings that come with it, but love is an action. Love is seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other. That is what God does for us. That is what we are to do with our fellow man.
Some of you reading this have deep and profound feelings about your faith and what you would say are experiences. That’s fine. I’m not knocking that, but I would say don’t let them control your life or make a diet out of them. Make sure they result in actions. Many of us are intellectually oriented. That’s okay. Your charge is similar. Don’t let God just be an idea, a piece of trivia that you study with no change. Let it result in action.
If someone responds differently than you do to something, that is okay. One person is moved to act towards God by good music. One is moved by the beauty of creation. One is moved by a theological insight. One is moved by showing that Jesus rose from the dead. We’re all different, and that’s okay.